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All Blacks know how important it is to defeat their worst enemies - themselves

DO THE HAKA: The All Blacks doing their famous routine before their semi-final win over South Africa last Saturday.
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Karlovic sends Wawrinka packing

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Evert: No lack of stardust even after Serena retires

Evert says star power of women's game will not wane even after Williams calls it a day

APPETITE FOR SUCCESS: Chris Evert says Maria Sharapova (above) has more hunger than Serena Williams.
APPETITE FOR SUCCESS: Chris Evert says Maria Sharapova (left) has more hunger than Serena Williams.

Serena Williams has been ruling women's tennis for the last 15 years, winning 21 Grand Slams.

But, at 34, there will come a day before she inevitably calls time on her remarkable career.

There are some who dread that when that day comes, women's tennis will lose the star power the American brings to the sport.

Not Chris Evert.

The 18-time Grand Slam winner, who is in town for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals presented by SC Global, told The New Paper yesterday the women's game has enough depth to produce another big star.

Said Evert (right): "When Bjorn Borg retired (at the age of 26 in 1983), I thought, 'Tennis is going to fall apart, the men's game will never be the same'.

"But, after a year, it was fine. It settled down, new stars emerged.

"Women's tennis has always been in a healthy state.

"More than ever now, there are more diversity and choices in terms of players' personalities, which part of the world they're from.

"I see so much more depth in the game, in personalities, characters and leadership... I am really adamant when I say this: women's tennis will be fine. No matter what happens."

One player who could take over the mantle from Williams is Maria Sharapova, whom Evert somewhat surprisingly views as having more hunger than the current world 
No. 1.

"Maria has that gift, she has that hunger," said the 60-year-old of the 28-year-old Russian.


"Maybe it's because of where she's come from and she doesn't forget her roots... She didn't forget that she went over (to the US) with her dad and he took on two jobs to support her at (Nick) Bollettieri's (tennis academy).

"For whatever reason, she is unbelievable. Even more so than Serena, I find. Because Serena will go in and out of hunger, but Maria always has it in every match, every tournament... She just makes things happen, and it's phenomenal."

Evert also tipped 22-year-old Spaniard Garbine Muguruza, who earlier this week celebrated a career-high ranking of No. 3, to be the next big star in women's tennis.

"She has a great attitude and will not let the momentum slip like maybe a Eugenie Bouchard (who slipped from world No. 5 to 48 in the last 12 months) did or other players in the past," Evert said of Muguruza.

"It (climbing to the top) has made (Muguruza) more determined than ever to get to the next step. She has all the makings of a No. 1 player."

Evert is so impressed with Muguruza that she is backing her to win the Australian Open in January.

"Yeah, oh yeah," the American said, when asked if Muguruza had a good shot at winning her first Grand Slam title of her career.

"The freshness of being in the top two or three in the world, the lack of experience of winning big tournaments or big matches like Serena or Sharapova... That could be the only thing working against her.

"But I definitely could see her winning."

Hapless Halep crashes out of WTA Finals

Romanian top seed beaten by Radwanska, who makes semis thanks to some help from Sharapova

My coach was telling me many things, but I couldn’t hear because I was done and I was very nervous. — Simona Halep (above), on losing to Agnieszka Radwanska.
My coach was telling me many things, but I couldn’t hear because I was done and I was very nervous. — Simona Halep, on losing to Agnieszka Radwanska (above).

For a while yesterday, top seed Simona Halep looked on course for the semi-finals of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals presented by SC Global.

But, after establishing a 3-1 lead in the first set of her third round-robin match against Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, the Romanian ran out of steam and capitulated in spectacular fashion.

The world No. 2 had led Radwanska 5-1 in the tie-breaker in the first set, only to lose the next six points and the set.

Halep then collapsed in the second set and was able to muster only a single game as she eventually lost 7-6, 6-1 in 1hr 43min, a result which dumped her out of the Finals.

Considering the 24-year-old had impressively routed US Open champion Flavia Pennetta 6-0, 6-2 in the first match last Sunday, her elimination was a huge shock.

Halep could have advanced to the semi-finals even in defeat yesterday if she had won a set after the Romanian split her opening two matches - a 6-0, 6-3 win over Flavia Pennetta and a 6-4, 6-4 loss to Maria Sharapova.

She explained that the turning point was the tie-breaker in the first set.

"(After losing the tie-breaker), I was done," said Halep, who was top seed at the elite eight-woman event in Singapore after the withdrawal of defending champion Serena Williams due to fatigue.


"No energy any more. I was tired.

"I felt that I lost the chance to win the first set and probably I lost the chance to win the match in that moment.

"My coach was telling me many things, but I couldn't hear because I was done and I was very nervous."

Radwanska, the world No. 6, admitted that it was a day when "everything was working for me".

Out of the various possible scenarios from yesterday's two matches, only one - her beating Halep and Sharapova beating Pennetta in straight sets - would have seen the 26-year-old make it through to the semi-finals, following defeats in her first two matches.

But that was just what happened, as Sharapova produced a top-notch display to score a 7-5, 6-1 victory over the Italian - who has officially hung up her racket - in 1hr 28min.

It was Halep's exit, though, that was on everybody's lips at the stadium.

Chris Evert, an 18-time Grand Slam winner, had ominously pointed out just minutes before the match how Halep's effort at making subtle changes to her game this year had "rattled her base game" and made her more prone to errors.

That proved to be the case.

Halep said: "She (Radwanska) was dominating me because I was a few steps too far from the baseline, so I couldn't dominate the match.

"She started to play her best. I give her a lot of credit because she played good tennis today."

Halep insisted, however, she was happy with the way 2015 had panned out for her, and set her sights on more success next season.

She won the biggest title of her career at Indian Wells in May and also lifted trophies in Dubai and Shenzhen. But she suffered a first-round defeat at Wimbledon and a second-round exit at Roland Garros, although she reached the semi-finals of the US Open.

"I think I had a good year this year," said Halep.

"Ups and downs, but it was okay.

"I will finish (the year) No. 2 or No. 3 in the world, so it's pretty good for me. It's the second year in a row.

"I really want to get better, I want to do better next year."

For now, though, she has only one thing on her mind.

"I just want to take a holiday now," she said, flashing a megawatt smile.

"I don't want think about tennis any more.

"Then I will (return) stronger."

Results and schedule

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New Zealand have lost just three games in four years, but I love Australia — they have a really good team, especially the backline. I expect an open, beautiful game with a lot of tries and New Zealand to win 32-25. — France Development captain Pierre Reynaud (above)
The rugby that Australia have been playing this World Cup has been phenomenal... while I don’t think New Zealand have been firing on all cylinders, although if the All Blacks reach their full capacity, they would be hard to beat. Any team would have to step it up in the final though, they wouldn’t deserve to win if they don’t, and I do believe Australia are capable of beating New Zealand. I am going for the Aussies to win 23-16. — South Africa Sevens Academy captain Kyle Brown (above)
The Australians will have to put in the best form of their careers to beat New Zealand. The World Cup final has always been a lowscoring affair, and it’d also depend on how the English weather holds up. I am going for New Zealand to win 20-12. — England Academy captain John Brake (above)
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